Hello! My name is Charlie Koepp and I’ve been attending Basis Independent Brooklyn since 6th grade. In my free time I enjoy playing basketball and football, lifting, reading, and listening to vinyl records. In the fall, I’ll be attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison with plans to study political science and business.
While my project involves a mix of politics, economics, and technology, all of which I’ve been interested in for several years, rural broadband only caught my attention about 2-3 months ago. I was originally interested in the rural-urban political divide after reading both The Left Behind by Robert Wuthnow and The Politics of Resentment by Kathy Cramer. Both books detail how rural resentment has led to polarization and the rise of characters like Donald Trump and Scott Walker.
With these books, I also learned about how rural America has been struggling economically, and part of the reason for that is that many don’t have adequate access to broadband. After reading “Kamala Harris Deserves a More Important Job” by Thomas Friedman, it was apparent that the connectivity divide between rural and urban America had been intensified due to the pandemic.
My research question is “What are the economically viable ways that rural broadband can be expanded?” I hope to explore availability, affordability, and adaptability when it comes to implementing broadband. 37% of students in rural areas don’t have access to adequate connectivity, according to Common Sense Media. Rural Americans are also about 12 percent less likely than Americans overall to have home broadband, according to Pew Research.
Closing the digital divide will promote education as less students will have to travel to find a hotspot due to there being reliable access to the internet at home. Broadband is also good for the economy, as it promotes small business growth, according to Brookings.
I was originally supposed to work with a think tank called Heartland Forward, which promotes business growth in the heartland. Unfortunately, those plans fell through, but I plan on working with an organization based in Kentucky called Connected Nation. Connected Nation develops and provides the tools, resources, and methods that help states and communities create and implement solutions to their broadband and digital technology gaps.
Connected Nation: https://connectednation.org/
Project Proposal: Senior Project Proposal – Charlie Koepp